POMPEY ACADEMY boss Mark Kelly admitted the Blues youngsters fell below their own high standards in their first Youth Alliance League south west division defeat of the season against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
The hosts were their own worst enemies after throwing away a one-goal lead given to them by Brandon Joseph-Buadi at the beginning of the second half.
The work rate wasn’t there from the beginning. We weren’t doing the right things in the right areas.Pompey Academy boss Mark Kelly
A defensive slip from Dory Yates allowed the visitors in for a swift equaliser at Furze Lane and – following a series of missed Pompey chances – the Pilgrims snatched the points with a late headed goal from a corner.
For Kelly, the 2-1 loss was on the cards for the league leaders from kick-off, when Plymouth were allowed to assert their authority on proceedings.
He said: ‘The work-rate wasn’t there from the beginning.
‘We weren’t doing the right things in the right areas.
‘They were an honest group who gave their all.
‘We didn’t match them and were soon on the back foot.
‘In the second half, we changed things around and got ourselves in front.
‘We should have scored five – but if you don’t finish your chances, you are always going to get punished somewhere.’
Any of the talents hoping to erase the memory of the defeat were given a stark reminder of the standards expected under the tuition of both Kelly and under-18s coach Mikey Harris, who presented the teenagers with a video nasty of the game.
‘Me and Mikey sat down and analysed the game with them and talked about the process of how and why we lost,’ said Kelly.
‘We happened to make too many wrong decisions in wrong areas.
‘The movement patterns off the ball weren’t good and we weren’t early enough in our decision making.
‘People were getting caught in possession.
‘We weren’t quick enough (on the ball) and when you aren’t, people try to pull you into little areas.
‘Plymouth were able to get tight to us and then all of sudden their work-rate saw them getting them on top.
‘On the day, we saw that in the game and told them at half-time time to react and do what they do.
‘We improved and, to be fair, their goalkeeper pulled off three very good saves.
‘But if you make five or six chances, it doesn’t matter what level you are at – if you don’t put the ball in the net on a consistent basis, the game runs away with itself.’
Pompey Academy will bid to bounce back to winning ways in the league when they travel to Cheltenham Town on Saturday (11am).
– JEFF MARSHMAN